I’m not going to talk about being sick because I’m sick of it. All of it. Feeling it. My head. The snot. All of it. So, instead I’m going to tell you a story about when I was 6. When you get done clapping from excitement, I’ll begin.

At one point in 1st grade, I had enough of my hair. It was stringy. It was in my face. It wasn’t blond. It didn’t curl. It didn’t bounce. It was awful. And I just knew that if I had the same cut as a girl in my class, we’ll call her Trixie, that all my problems would be solved. I asked my mom if I could have my hair cut like Trixie but I lived in a world where we had this type of haircut and my sister wanted to live in the pretend log cabin out back and no one was worried about my hair not having curls. So I decided to cut it myself. And, why not? I was good with scissors. I cut perfect valentines in class. My box was the best looking valentine box in the whole class. It had perfect shaped pink, red and white doily hearts around the entire perimeter. Perfect! And, it was my hair! I could cut it if I wanted to and I’d look like Trixie in no time.

Staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, I took a chunk from the right side and gave it a chop. Suddenly, I could see my ear. Almost in its entirety. It was a little shocking because I didn’t remember Trixie’s ear showing quite like that. I considered stopping for a split second, but what would be the point of that? No one at school had only one ear showing! So, to even it up, I took a chop at the left side. I can still hear the sound of the hair sliding coarsely in between the sharpened blades of my mom’s sewing scissors. It fell in scattered patterns around the sink basin, piling up in various places and missing other areas completely. It reminded me of brown snowflakes. There was much more hair than I thought there should be, and my stomach did a little turn.

I looked at myself squarely in the face and took stock if my situation in as fair and un-dramatic way as I possibly could. And then I screamed, threw the scissors in the trash and ran to my room. My sister went first into the bathroom where the scream had come from, saw the hair in the sink and then pounded on the door until I let her see the damage I had done. She didn’t laugh. She just looked. Stared. Deep into the crevasses of my ears and then yelled ‘MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM’ as loud as I’d ever heard.

I was crying almost inconsolably at this point. I knew that my entire life was ruined. No bouncy hair. Never to be blond and now never to be long enough to bounce. Arrrg, the indignity of it. And not only that but the 1/4 inch stubble above my left eye was itching and I had tiny bits of hair in my eye and mouth.

My mother ‘evened things up’ around the edges of my scalp. Her long-term solution was a hat. Nay, not a hat, but a cap (bottom right corner of the image). It was a lovely cap, stylized after the pioneer women that crossed the plains. Why would any small child in the first grade in 1977 NOT want to wear one? My mom made me two, one white, one a pale green. I hated them but I hated my sad, sad stubble more so I wore them for almost an entire month while my hair grew back in. I wore them to school and to church. I wore them to the grocery store where the older ladies would tap the top of my head and ask why I was wearing such a fun hat. And then my mom or older sibling would launch into a hearty round of Leah Cutting Off All Her Hair. Oh, yes. Fun was had by all. But don’t worry. My hair grew back in just in time for me to be a part of the Diversity Parade.

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  1. My sister cut my hair for me. She did such a bad job, I had to get a ‘Pixie’ hair cut (cool, it rhymes with Trixie!) ANYWAY, for punishment my sister had to get a Pixie cut too. We both looked like dorks. I’ve been meaning to scan those photos… Leah, I love your writing.

  2. What a funny story! The picture links are great too!

    When I was in 4th grade, my mom gave me a ‘Pixie’ haircut on PURPOSE! I think that was about the time the Twiggy and Jane Fonda a la ‘Klute’ hair trends creeped into the Midwest eight years too late.

    After being mistaken for a little boy one too many times, I insisted on covering my head with a bandana. Fortunately, my grandmother was compassionate enough to buy me a rainbow of colors so I could wear one every day until my hair grew out. I still have a short hair complex to this day…

  3. I love that your mom painted you brown for diversity day. That picture is priceless. I wish you had one of you and your faux-asian friend!

  4. Oh I feel for you, I remember those long dresses all too well. I always got my older cousins hand-me-downs and I remember many of those long dresses. My mom has a kindergarten photo of me and 5 other girls standing in front of our school and all wearing those nice cover-everythings.

    I never did take scissors to my hair, but I had the little cover fall off the shears hile cutting my son’s hair. Let’s just say he enjoyed a nice cool head that summer.

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